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  (Source: bestasiatravel.asia)
Panasonic will likely survive because it focuses on more than just consumer electronics

A credit rating agency said that Panasonic would likely survive longer than Sony after downgrading both electronics companies.

Credit rating agency Fitch recently lowered Panasonic's rating down two notches to BB, but cut Sony down three notches to BB minus. Other credit rating agencies have put them at the same level.

The reason for Fitch's credit ratings? It claims Panasonic has a "relatively stable consumer appliance business," such as refrigerators and washing machines, aside from just consumer electronics. Sony, on the other hand, is mainly depending on the extremely competitive consumer electronics market.

Right now, tech giants like Apple and Samsung have a strong hold on the electronics market, such as smartphones and tablets.

Sony's troubles largely stem from its failing TV business. It has seen eight straight years of quarterly losses, and last December, Sony decided to shake up its TV division by negotiating a buyout of its 50 percent manufacturing stake with Samsung in the LCD joint venture. It also split its TV division into three units consisting of sales of LCD TVs, outsourcing manufacturing to cheaper foreign facilities and developing future TVs.

To make matters worse, Sony reported a record annual loss of $5.7 billion USD in May 2012.

However, new Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has been working to turn the company around since he took over in April 2012. In fact, he offered an entirely new plan for restructuring the company. A key idea behind the restructuring was to strengthen core businesses, including digital imaging, games and mobile. He also opted to take over the failing TV business, expand business in emerging markets, create new businesses and realign the business portfolio.

Just last month, Sony closed a factory in Japan and cut 2,000 jobs at its Tokyo headquarters.

While Hirai is trying to make Sony profitable again, Fitch said "most of their electronic business are loss making" and "appear to be overstretched."

Fitch said Panasonic, on the other hand, is focusing on areas other than consumer electronics like home appliances, lithium batteries, solar panels and automotive parts.

Source: Reuters



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RE: my analysis
By chemist1 on 11/25/2012 7:08:03 AM , Rating: 3
Just to add a bit of perspective, it's not generally true that Sony has had "no real innovation." While Sony has not been sufficiently innovative in many areas, their compact cameras, for instance, have been cutting-edge. In particular, the Sony RX-100 was just named one of Time Magazine's "Best Inventions of the Year 2012" (http://www.petapixel.com/2012/11/02/sony-rx100-sel... Browse through this site and you'll see the striking quality of photos achievable with what is essentially a 9 oz. pocket camera: http://blog.mingthein.com/2012/08/06/the-sony-rx10...


RE: my analysis
By Tony Swash on 11/25/2012 9:18:51 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
In particular, the Sony RX-100 was just named one of Time Magazine's "Best Inventions of the Year 2012" (http://www.petapixel.com/2012/11/02/sony-rx100-sel... Browse through this site and you'll see the striking quality of photos achievable with what is essentially a 9 oz. pocket camera: http://blog.mingthein.com/2012/08/06/the-sony-rx10...


I second that, the RX100 is a fantastic device, capable of producing images as good as a mid-range DSLR but which fits in your pocket. My other camera is a Nikon D800 which is about as good as it get's in terms of image quality but it weighs a ton and so I find I get a lot of wonderful photos from the RX100 just because I always have to with me.


RE: my analysis
By chemist1 on 11/25/2012 2:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
Damn, you got downrated for that?? Sheesh, it does get a bizarre here.

This is OT (then again, so are most of the comments on DT, so I suppose I'm just joining the club....), but how good is the in-camera HDR on the RX100 (vs. manually combining+aligning images in Photoshop)? I'm trying to decide between the RX100 and the Oly E-PM5 which, while not quite as stunningly compact as the RX100, costs less and takes even better pics (2x bigger sensor); the one downside (for me) is I've heard it doesn't have the RX100's in-camera HDR with automatic image alignment (the latter, I understand, obviates the need for a tripod).


RE: my analysis
By Tony Swash on 11/25/2012 2:41:45 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Damn, you got downrated for that?? Sheesh, it does get a bizarre here.

This is OT (then again, so are most of the comments on DT, so I suppose I'm just joining the club....), but how good is the in-camera HDR on the RX100 (vs. manually combining+aligning images in Photoshop)? I'm trying to decide between the RX100 and the Oly E-PM5 which, while not quite as stunningly compact as the RX100, costs less and takes even better pics (2x bigger sensor); the one downside (for me) is I've heard it doesn't have the RX100's in-camera HDR with automatic image alignment (the latter, I understand, obviates the need for a tripod).


I can't really help with the HDR as that only works when shooting JPEG and I shoot RAW only. In RAW you can pull a lot of detail out of the highlights and shadows and the noise is very restrained, so I don't miss the HDR. The camera is also very fast for a compact, so I just leave it set to shoot a bracket of three exposures, one normal exposure, one 0.7 over, one 0.7 under, that way I pick the best or even combine the exposures (because the speed means minimal ghosting even hand held). I have been spoiled as far as image quality goes, I had a D700 and now have a D800, but this was the first compact that hasn't disappointed me with image quality.

There are some nice features too that show that some actual photographers had a hand in designing it, like the ability to bend the flash unit back with your finger to get a bounce flash, very nice.


RE: my analysis
By chemist1 on 11/25/2012 4:10:31 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks :).


RE: my analysis
By chemist1 on 11/25/2012 5:23:00 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, just wanted to add that it's common to do HDR with three shots at -2/0/+2 EV, or with five at -2/-1/0/+1/+2 EV. Are you saying that the auto-bracketing feature in burst mode is limited to -0.7/0/+.7 EV?


RE: my analysis
By Tony Swash on 11/25/2012 6:55:57 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Are you saying that the auto-bracketing feature in burst mode is limited to -0.7/0/+.7 EV?


Yes. And that is a drawback about which there has been quite a lot of complaints in places like the Sony DPReview forum. I cannot see why that cannot be fixed in a firmware upgrade but I am not holding my breath.

All cameras have weaknesses and the RX is not perfect but for such a small camera which I can comfortably carry in my trouser pocket whenever I leave the house and which takes great photos it is still pretty amazing.


RE: my analysis
By chemist1 on 11/25/2012 8:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks again. One last question, motivated by your observation about raw vs. jpeg (and by the considered responses you've given above): I’ve never worked with raw (indeed, outside of those in my computer and phone, I’ve not yet owned a digital camera, not having returned to the hobby since I left it after the demise of film), and I’m wondering how it would not be burdensome to have to do post-production (required by raw) on each of one’s shots. Back when I shot film (mostly 35 mm, but also some medium format), while I liked to compose my shots, adjust dof, etc., I never liked bothering with developing, which seems the film analog of manipulating raw files. I’d be interested to hear your observations on this, if it wouldn’t be a burden.

[That's actually why I was hoping for effective in-camera HDR -- HDR is a good way to motivate a film person into digital, since it's a powerful, and non-gimmicky, photographic technique uniquely available from digital, and I was looking forward to being able to implement it routinely without a lot of extra work -- not so much to get that HDR look, but simply to routinely improve the dynamic range of my photos. Indeed, since what it offers -- increased dynamic range -- seems so fundamental (it's more than a mere feature -- I would think it improves performance), I don't understand why it's not considered an essential part of all digital cameras. Further, with sufficiently sophisticated auto-alignment algorithms, it seems one could routinely use a non-bracketed form of burst-mode HDR to take better conventional pictures in low light (would summing 3 pics give similar low-light performance to a single pic with a much larger sensor?), thus significantly extending the usable range of compact cameras. Of course, I'm speaking as a digicam neophyte.]


RE: my analysis
By Tony Swash on 11/25/2012 8:44:48 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Thanks again. One last question, motivated by your observation about raw vs. jpeg (and by the considered responses you've given above): I’ve never worked with raw (indeed, outside of those in my computer and phone, I’ve not yet owned a digital camera, not having returned to the hobby since I left it after the demise of film), and I’m wondering how it would not be burdensome to have to do post-production (required by raw) on each of one’s shots. Back when I shot film (mostly 35 mm, but also some medium format), while I liked to compose my shots, adjust dof, etc., I never liked bothering with developing, which seems the film analog of manipulating raw files. I’d be interested to hear your observations on this, if it wouldn’t be a burden.


I always shoot raw and love post processing but it can eat up the time. Raw images almost always do need post processing and can look pretty crapy straight out of the camera. One solution would be to shoot Raw+JPEG (which the RX can do) and get the best of both worlds, use the JPEGs most of the time and fall back on the Raw if you really want to tweak the most out of a shot.

For processing raw images quickly I would strongly suggest Lightroom, the tools in the latest version are fantastic and with a simple slide of a control you can open the shadows and pull back the highlights. It takes me less than a minute to process most raw images in Lightroom (although the 36 meg files from the D800 can strain your system).

quote:
That's actually why I was hoping for effective in-camera HDR -- HDR is a good way to motivate a film person into digital, since it's a powerful, and non-gimmicky, photographic technique uniquely available from digital, and I was looking forward to being able to implement it routinely without a lot of extra work -- not so much to get that HDR look, but simply to routinely improve the dynamic range of my photos. Indeed, since what it offers -- increased dynamic range -- seems so fundamental (it's more than a mere feature -- I would think it improves performance), I don't understand why it's not considered an essential part of all digital cameras. Further, with sufficiently sophisticated auto-alignment algorithms, it seems one could routinely use a non-bracketed form of burst-mode HDR to take better conventional pictures in low light (would summing 3 pics give similar low-light performance to a single pic with a much larger sensor?), thus significantly extending the usable range of compact cameras. Of course, I'm speaking as a digicam neophyte.]


I couldn't agree more, I used to have a lovely Fuji S5 that had a special high dynamic range sensor which produced really great images but alas it only had 12 megapixels and for the big landscape prints I often do that was not enough. I sold it and got the D800 which has three times the resolution and fantastic dynamic range, if it only weighed as little as the RX100 on those long hikes in the mountains it would be the perfect camera.

Good luck with the photography. What I most like photography is how it makes you really look at the world around you, when I wander about shooting I go into a sort of super relaxed trance :)


RE: my analysis
By chemist1 on 11/25/2012 10:05:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I've heard some find Lightroom much more convenient than Photoshop, so I may purchase the former instead of upgrading my Adobe suite from CS3 to CS6. Though I understand LR doesn't align images, so for HDR one would need LR + something like Photomatix (or Photoshop).

I just found this great table that gives burst-mode automatic exposure bracketing for a huge range of cameras; it appears that Sony did a firmware update to improve this functionality in the NEX7, so perhaps the RX100 will get it down the road:
http://www.hdr-photography.com/aeb.html


RE: my analysis
By Tony Swash on 11/26/2012 9:09:17 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Yeah, I've heard some find Lightroom much more convenient than Photoshop, so I may purchase the former instead of upgrading my Adobe suite from CS3 to CS6. Though I understand LR doesn't align images, so for HDR one would need LR + something like Photomatix (or Photoshop).


If you go with Lightroom check out LR/Enfuse which uses the open source Enfuse system to align and blend exposures in Lightroom, in my opinion it produces more natural looking results than Photomatix.

http://www.photographers-toolbox.com/products/lren...

On a Mac you can use the same Enfuse system to blend exposures without using Lightroom. It's $20

http://www.pangeasoft.net/pano/bracketeer/index.ht...

The other approach, which I currently favour, uses Photoshop and Lightroom together. Since Lightroom 4.2 (I think that was the version) it has had the ability to process 32 bit images. So you can select a set of bracketed shots in Lightroom, then using the 'Edit in' function and select 'Merge to HRD Pro in Photoshop' send them to Photoshop to be blended into a 32 bit image. Once Photoshop has completed the merger of images don't do any processing or tone mapping in Photoshop just shut and save the image which then imports the new 32 bit merged file back into Lightroom. In Lightroom with a 32 bit file the standard controls to open shadows or pull back highlights now have much more headroom, several stops depending on your bracket spread, to play with and you can get some amazing results.


RE: my analysis
By chemist1 on 11/27/2012 1:35:49 AM , Rating: 2
Interesting. So in your view, in increasing order of quality, it's:
1) make HDR by merging/aligning/tonemapping in Photomatix
2) don't create HDR (thus avoiding need for tonemapping), instead align/blend images using Enfuse/Bracketeer
3) make HDR by merging/aligning in PS, then tonemapping in LR

Since the second option is $20, I'll probably try that first. The last is potentially expensive b/c, in addition to the purchase of LR, I might also need to get CS6, since the alignment algorithm in my current CS3 is probably not very good (plus PS in CS3 might not be compatible with current LR).

Here's another open-source implementation, by Durand, that might interest you:
http://people.csail.mit.edu/sparis/bf/#code
(see comparison of diff. algorithms here: http://www.frank-durr.de/tonemapping_comparison.ht...


RE: my analysis
By Lord 666 on 11/26/2012 2:09:47 AM , Rating: 2
Never understood why you got a bad rep around here nor why after being senselessly abused you stick around.

Your posts are insightful and mature. This thread of yours is an excellent example of collaboration versus the other polarized BS posted by others.

The whole topic of Sony is relative to the Apple vs. Android argument. At one point, Sony could do no wrong. Eventually, bad business practices and stagnation took hold and Sony started to fail. Consumers decide with their wallet and companies succeed or fall because of it. Only time will tell if it will happen again to Apple. But until then, it is pointless to argue senselessly about what comes down to personal preference.


RE: my analysis
By Cheesew1z69 on 11/26/2012 8:30:13 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Never understood why you got a bad rep around here nor why after being senselessly abused you stick around.
Not hard to understand at all...


RE: my analysis
By nikon133 on 11/26/2012 3:16:14 PM , Rating: 2
I shoot RAW, batch-convert to JPG (which might take some time but does not require my presence) and then fine-tune selected photos and convert them individually to JPG again.

While it can take more time altogether, it takes less of my time.


RE: my analysis
By rdhood on 11/26/2012 10:47:45 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
I second that, the RX100 is a fantastic device


And you two show EXACTLY why Sony is failing. One can wander over to the AVS forums and see the same thing: lavish praise on Sony for a product that is 3x the cost of the average product in it's category!

If you are selling a compact camera today, you better not be selling for more than $200. Most people (not talking about photographers, but the average person taking pictures) finds it difficult to pay even $200 for what he/she think their phone already does well enough. Other people, like me, think that there are PLENTY of $200 cameras that take fantastic pictures such that there is no need for a $650 RX100 compact camera. If I am going to spend $650, I'd rather buy a used Nikon D7000!

You get my drift? There aren't enough audio/video purists/bigots around who appreciate that Sony might be 1% better than the competition and are willing to pay 300% of the price for an item that is 1% better than the competition.


RE: my analysis
By nikon133 on 11/26/2012 3:49:24 PM , Rating: 2
No, not really.

Out of RX100 I'm getting images of quality comparable to my good old Nikon D70.

Nikon has better per-pixel quality (less noise, mostly) but when you downsample RX100 20MP images to 6, 8 or even 10MP, noise cleans up nicely. I've been sending my friends (some of them owning various dSLRs) 6MP downsampled images from RX100 and native 6MP images from D70, both shoot in RAW, converted to JPG in Lightroom, no additional editing, and with EXIF data removed.

None of them could tell which photos were made with dSLR and which with compact.

Of course, my D70 is not latest and greatest, but I'm jet to see small sensor P&S that comes anywhere close to my D70. In fact, reason I got RX100 was that I was spoiled by D70 and disappointed with every P&S I have tried, and yet wanted to have pocketable camera for situations I don't want to drag D70 with me.

I'm still planning to buy new dSLR at some point.

So you see, I don't get your drift. You are drifting from the false point that RX100 is just over-glorified and overpriced average P&S, which it isn't. It isn't 1% better than $200 camera. It is significantly better than $200 cameras.

I'm just a hobbyist photographer. D70 still does fine for my needs, so I'm not over demanding. And I'm still finding RX100 a great value for the money. I'm confident a lot of other dSLR shooters will like it for the same reasons.

And speaking of which, why would one get a dSLR when $200 P&S can do "almost" as good? Isn't that, basically, your drift?


RE: my analysis
By rdhood on 11/27/2012 9:29:25 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
No, not really. Out of RX100 I'm getting images of quality comparable to my good old Nikon D70.


Yes, really. The issue is not what kind of picture YOU can get out of the camera. This could be the single, most fantastic compact camera in the world at this moment. The issue is that a $150 compact camera or camera phone is sufficient for about 95% of users. In the hands of these users, the crappy photographer wil take pictures just as badly with the RX100 as they do with their $150 compact camera.

You don't judge/compare a mass-market cameras by what the best photographer will do with it. Most people aren't that best photographer. If most people produce images that are more or less equivalent to images produced on a camera costing 25% as much, they will go with the cheaper alternative... and that would NOT be Sony.


RE: my analysis
By chemist1 on 11/27/2012 12:50:22 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
And you two show EXACTLY why Sony is failing.....You get my drift? There aren't enough audio/video purists/bigots around who appreciate that Sony might be 1% better than the competition and are willing to pay 300% of the price for an item that is 1% better than the competition.

This post, alas, illustrates exactly what's wrong with the level of discussion here on DT, on two levels. First, the fellow is criticizing my post about the RX100 using an argument about sales, without bothering to look up even basic sales figures! If he did, he would realize that the RX100 is selling well -- it has been in Amazon's top 100 in Camera and Photo for 167 days. Further, this is generally acknowledged as *the* top compact pocket camera, supplanting Canon's S95/100/110, resulting in lots of free laudatory press (which of course means free marketing). This connection between "Sony" and "state of the art," and the general buzz it has created in the compact camera market, is a marketer's dream, since the resulting halo effect sould boost sales of the RX100's lesser-priced brand mates.

Second, and more concerning, is the non-collegial tone. He makes it personal, saying "you two show EXACTLY why Sony is failing," instead of sticking to the substance and simply saying "I disagree because..." And let's please lose the gratuitous "audio/video purists/bigots" insult.

There are certainly reasons why Sony is failing, but it's not because of what they are doing with the RX100; I would argue, by contrast, is that this is the sort of product that used to keep Sony on top.


RE: my analysis
By rdhood on 11/27/2012 9:21:53 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Second, and more concerning, is the non-collegial tone. He makes it personal, saying "you two show EXACTLY why Sony is failing," instead of sticking to the substance and simply saying "I disagree because..." And let's please lose the gratuitous "audio/video purists/bigots" insult. There are certainly reasons why Sony is failing, but it's not because of what they are doing with the RX100; I would argue, by contrast, is that this is the sort of product that used to keep Sony on top.


Keep on deluding yourself. Sony is obviously crumbling. People aren't (en masse) paying products that they no longer see as a value. Purists crow what great products they are, yet the Joe Sixpack just isn't buying them. Sony needs a monumental turn around and you people are stuck thinking this is a marketing problem.

Sony needs to create products that Joe Sixpack can 1) afford 2) want. Elite products, in and of themselves, don't cut it.


RE: my analysis
By aliasfox on 11/28/2012 11:24:47 AM , Rating: 2
rhood - I disagree wholeheartedly.

In the set of people I know, there are three types of picture takers: camera-phone, SLR, and the in-between crowd (which we'll get to).

- Out of convenience, people will shoot on their phone. It's always with them, and most of them have cameras that can make passable images on Facebook.

- People *want* SLR picture quality - in anything other than near-daylight, it is plain as the nose on your face that most point and shoots offer crap image quality in somewhat low light. Anything worse than ISO400 at f-3.0 and you're up a creek with a $150 Elph.

- Nobody wants to carry an SLR - a significant portion of the population has spent ~$500-1500 on an SLR, including many of my friends (some received as gifts). These cameras end up being left at home most of the time because they're too big and heavy. I have a coworker who has two Nikon bodies, but his XZ-1 is with him 3x as much. Another one has a Nikon and a m4/3 body, but carries around his RX100.

- Give people an option to have a picture that can start to approach SLR quality in a restaurant/bar/party scenario? People will listen, and they have. I carry an XZ-1, my gf carries a Lumix GF3. We both have friends that carry S90/S95s and other similar cameras. None of us do much more than vacation shooting and get-together shooting (well, the girls take lots of food pictures). We all paid $4-500 for our setups. The RX100, at a street price of only a little bit more, in a form factor as good as an S95, with picture quality as good as a GF3, would get a lot of attention next time we need/want to upgrade.

- I believe the segment that's at risk isn't the high end pocketable (a segment which every manufacturer has at least one entry right now), it's the low margin <$200 supercompacts - yes, the picture quality is better than a cameraphone, but is it worth the hassle when 'better than a cameraphone' is still going to get you crap in the scenarios you're most likely to be using it in? And with low margins, manufacturers have little incentive to actually improve this segment (faster lenses, larger sensors).


"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation














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